This will be long, but read it. Particularly if you appreciate culture, anthropology, history, family, or just a good story.
When I was young we used to go to my grandparents house once a week. My grandmother would make a pot of coffee and we would all sit in their living room, four generations of people terminating with me. I would listen as they talked about all sorts of things, but the thing I enjoyed the most was listening to my Grandfather tell stories.
My perceptions of my grandfather have changed many times over the years as I grew and matured. They ranged anywhere from infallible but distant patriarch to loving, deep-feeling human. But the one thing that was always consistent was his stories.
It wasn’t that they were all funny, or moving, or even very original. It was the WAY he told them. There was a method. I like to believe it was born of a time when he, as a young man working as a trapper just to make ends meet, sat around the tables with his family and related events as the primary source of entertainment in their lives. It wasn’t just a conversation, it was an art.
The story has a cadence. It has sections, peppered with creative profanity and a French/English mix I miss deeply. Drop the ‘H’ at the beginning of your words, loose any ‘T’ at the end. ‘Three’ is ‘Tree’ and you will start to hear what I mean.
As a young adult in University I strove to eliminate these eccentricities from my speech. I had been falsely lead to believe that this accent made me lesser. Less intelligent, less worthy of respect, less advanced as a human. The reality was that it was a beautiful aspect of myself. Something unreplicable as an innate facet of a person who isn’t born to it. That culture is flawed. This is certain. But everything is, as is everyone. And we love despite flaws. It’s what makes us divine.
These days I love moments when stories are being told. It’s one of the things I love most about the SCA. I can hear art in it, especially when people like Olaf or Steve speak. The same silence settles. It has the same tenor, yet it’s not quite the same. Maybe it’s a family flavor to it I’m missing, but it’s close.
Sometimes I tell stories, too. They aren’t all that funny, or moving, or even very original. But in my mind I can hear him. I know how he would say it. When he would pause. Which parts deserved a good dose of profanity, and I know. I know it lives on.